Southern California environment news and trends

It’s official: The air in Los Angeles can kill you

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The Los Angeles downtown skyline is enveloped in smog shortly before sunset

Most citizens of Los Angeles don’t need a survey to tell them that it’s the most stressful city of America. Still, when Forbes crunched a bunch of numbers including quality of life data, unemployment rates, housing affordability, etc, good old L.A. clocked in at #1.

While we know that stress can lead to a myriad of health issues and according to some, even death. Not exactly the feel-good statistic of the week, but hey, this is Los Angeles. Deal with it.

If that statistic is grim, it’s about to get even worse. According to a new study by the Environmental Protection Agency, just living in Los Angeles can kill you. To be more specific, the rampant air pollution that blankets Southern California is what can actually get you in the end.

Published in the journal Risk Analysis, the study (based on 2005 air quality) estimates that anywhere from 130,000 to 360,000 premature adult deaths in SoCal going forward. They’ve linked the poor air quality to everything from asthma, bronchitis and trips to the ER. In L.A. County, city of Los Angeles led the pack with 10 percent of deaths directly linked to air pollution.


Intel Corp is America’s biggest green power consumer, but Walmart is coming up fast

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The Environmental Protection Agency has released the latest updates on America’s biggest consumers of green power, and computer chip producer Intel Corp comes in at Number 1.

A full 88% of the electricity consumed by Intel is green, purchased from wind and solar farms. All told, they ate up more than 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of both over last year.

Kohl’s, Walmart, Whole Foods Markets and Johnson & Johnson round out the top 5, with Walmart moving from 15th to 3rd place on the strength of their green power purchases in California and Texas alone (and pushing Whole Foods down to fourth place).

Walmart has plans to add solar panels to another 130 California stores by the end of 2013, so expect their ranking to move in higher in the following years.


I nerd out with EPA's new greenhouse gas database so you don't have to

(Piotr Fajfel/Oxfam)net_efekt/Flickr

Carbon footprints designed by Christian Guthier for a climate change campaign at the UN Global Climate Change conference in Poznan.

It's a start, anyway. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency releases a new national greenhouse gas database, made up of self-reported data from 9 groups of polluters around the country: refineries, power plants, chemical facilities, "other industrial" facilities, landfills, metals, minerals, pulp and paper plants, and government and commercial sites. We've got plenty of those here, and it's a fun tool to play around with if you're interested in the climate impacts of industry.

Though it probably won't surprise you. Let's give it up for the BP Carson refinery…which reported 3,960,504 metric tons of carbon dioxide released and 492.652 metric tons of hydrogen produced in 2010. LA County's big footprint winner! Orange County can barely compete: combined GHG emissions for AES Huntington Beach, the biggest polluter behind the Curtain, are just over 14% of that: 572,203 metric tons of greenhouse gas released in 2010.